Blueberry and almond tart and 7 years on


My son's birthday is in October and every year, I try to come up with a new bake for that special day. Let's face it - I've been baking for a pretty long time and he's seen everything in my repertoire. No point asking him what he'd like either - the standard answer the past few years has been, "Anything Ma, whatever you want." Which sounds exactly as if he's indulging me!!

More than an year ago, the macaron baking bug had bitten me and in an attempt to making the perfect one, I had spent a small fortune on almond powder. This resulted in almost every shelf in my fridge (even the freezer) occupied by bags of almond powder... err...did I  say it was a "small" fortune?? I became a frequent visitor to the egg shop and the owner, seeing me buy dozens of eggs every week, once asked me if I was running a "hotel" ...duh!  My maid's eyes would light up with sheer happiness every time she saw me take out my macaron-baking paraphernalia  because she knew that she would be taking home plenty of egg yolks and "button biscuits" (she's seen and profits from my failures) for her kids the next day. Much angst, trial, error and pulling out of hair happened; the occasional batch turned out well but most of them didn't and "macaron" became a banned word in my house for some time.

So then, what to do with those packs of almond powder all over the fridge? Google assured me that there were fruit tarts I could make with it. Nothing could be simpler - a blueberry almond tart was going to be the birthday cake.

So you're wondering where I was going to get blueberries from in Chennai, right? Frozen
ones of course. Thaw them and they're just as good as fresh, maybe a little less messy on the bake. You need to make a sweet shortcrust pastry first and bake it blind. I add an egg to my pastry mix because I like how crisp the crust becomes but have done it without too. While the pastry is baking, make the filling and as soon as the pastry is ready, pour in the filling and pop it back into the oven. 45 minutes later, you can admire your beautiful tart. 

As I did. What we liked about it was that it was not too sweet but packed with flavour. The crust is buttery and the filling is little dense too, thanks to the almond flour which made slicing it a dream. Serve it with thick cream or a runny custard or ice cream. If you ask me, a sprinkle of icing sugar is all it actually needs. I kept mine unadorned because I had to write a message on it.

Also, I was given strict instructions not to place any of those *%*$#m******s on it (he's figured me out...sigh)!

Blueberry almond tart

Blueberry almond tart

Ingredients for pastry 
200 gm flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 egg, beaten
100 gm chilled butter, cut in cubes
Ice water to mix, as needed

Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
Rub in the butter till the mix resembles breadcrumbs,
Stir in the icing sugar.
Make a well in the centre, add the egg and just enough water and mix lightly to form a dough.
If you need a little more water, add it in drops till the dough comes together  and does not crack when pressed.
Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
*It's important not to add too much water or to knead the dough.

Preheat your oven to 190°C.
Dust your work space with flour and roll out the pastry into an even circle.
Line a 9" flan tin with the  pastry, trim off excess.
Bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes, remove paper and beans and bake again for another 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 170°C.
(To bake blind, place a large sheet of baking paper over the pastry. Place baking beans over the sheet and place it in the oven. This helps partially cook the pastry and prevents it from puffing up.)

300 gm frozen blueberries
90 gm butter, at room temperature
170 gm sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
150 gm almond powder

Place berries in a colander to thaw and drain.
While the pastry is baking, make the filling.

Cream butter and sugar for a minute.
Add in eggs, rind and vanilla bean paste, cream till light and fluffy.
Fold in the almond powder and lightly mix in the drained berries.
Spoon the filling into the prepared crust.
Bake the tart for about 40 minutes or till the filling is firm and golden.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 15 minutes before unmoulding.

It's another trip around the sun for my blog and we're 7 years today. Thank you for reading, for commenting and for being in our orbit! And this image is just to show how far my mac journey too has progressed. I'm off to the store now to pick up more almond flour!


I can say it now - macarons!

Bessie gets a Wok Monk


At first glance, the red, white and black bowls stuck on the wall look like a random arrangement. Why would anyone hang bowls on a wall? Step back and look at it through your camera and then, there's no doubt you're at Wok Monk!

A branch of the restaurant has opened at Besantnagar. Which is a really good thing because that's what Besantnagar lacks - a pan-Asian restaurant. The kitchen is Chef Ilankumar's territory and it's quite a ladle that he wields here. Around 130 dishes on the menu - those are some mind-boggling numbers indeed! And they are vegetarian-friendly too!

Iced Milo Recovery Shake; Chendol Champion

Better than the Iced Milo Recovery Shake is the Chendol Champion. That drink is a champ indeed and closest in taste to chendol you get in the land of its birth!

In-house dips and sauces

Bhutanese soup with chicken

The Bhutanese chicken soup has sliced chicken, broccoli and bamboo shoots in a clear broth. Providing crunch are water chestnuts. Curry powder in my soup - no, not my preferred flavouring though my tablemates just slurped it up.

Prawn hargao; corn and water chestnut dumpling

Mixed veg dumpling; xiao long bao

Neat pleating

Wok Monk has quite an impressive list of dumplings. The prawn hargao and fish-shaped corn and water chestnut dumplings were the tastiest. Chennai restaurants have now caught onto the trend of making xiao long bao and for ease of handling,  the dumplings are steamed on spoons, which I think totally takes away from their charm.

Yakitori; satay gai

As for food on sticks, both chicken yakitori and satay gai were tasty. Slices of leek added texture to the yakitori while the satay had good char and flavour. The peanut sauce was spot on, a perfect balance of peanut paste, tang and spice.

Dry chilli basil chicken

WM chilli chicken

Dry chilli basil chicken could have done with more basil. The Wok Monk chilli chicken was the usual kind that is served in most pan Asian restaurants. Perhaps some smoked chilli oil might have given it more personality.

Teriyaki chicken pizza

The thin crust Teriyaki pizza is quite a dish. This one's just for those who don't mind a twist in the  Cheesy and slightly sweet from the teriyaki sauce-infused meat, it was an unusual pairing.

Fire cracker lotus stem

Pad thai

WM vegetables even have cloud ear fungus. Delish! 

WM rice with chicken and comes wrapped in a lotus leaf

Veg mie goreng with the works - grilled tofu, cucumber and keropok

Steamed rice and Thai green curry prawns

A pad thai is a beautiful balance of Thai flavours. Wok Monk's version was a little too heavy on the tamarind sauce and the noodle was just that little bit overdone. We tried Mie goreng and lotus leaf wrapped Wok Monk rice with chicken, both main courses were very ordinary. What was impressive though was the Thai green curry prawns served with steamed rice. Wok Monk makes its own green curry paste and it's a perfect blend of aromatics, spice and aroma. And those prawns are large and absolutely fresh.

Kawaling pinoy

Chocolate tsunami; fried ice cream

It's nice when a restaurant makes the effort to create a list of desserts suited to their menu instead of passing on uninspiring copycat versions. Kawaling pinoy is one such delight where sweetened sago and mango do a tango. Then there's the oft-served fried ice cream, tiny but well made. The one that took us by surprise was definitely the chocolate tsunami. It looks like just another dimsum till you bite into one and a flood of chocolate ganache fills your mouth. The hint of sesame oil adds a savoury touch and that's what makes it moreish.

All Wok Monk needs is a few minor tweaks to the recipes. But that menu is going to draw me back because I spotted some of my favouite Asian dishes on it. And Chef IIan says that he knows exactly which ones I'm talking about!

Wok Monk is at 15, 17, 5th Avenue,
Urur Kuppam, Besantnagar.
044 4212 3399

*This was an invited review 

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